Storm chasing often involves long drives over vast distances. When we awoke in the morning of May 28th in Hays, Kansas, and checked the forecasting data, I knew this wasn’t going to be one of those often days. We were, more or less, already in our target area for the day. By early-afternoon, we had driven from Hays to Salina, a whooping 95 miles, which took a little under an hour and a half. This was one of those days where after several days of 400 miles plus, your tour guest begin to wonder if you really know what you’re doing. The “norm” is driving, and driving a lot. Today, we’re sitting in a parking lot an hour from where we started and we’re waiting. It’s days like this that requires a lot of patience for the forecaster. It’s easy to second guess yourself and drive away from your target area, only to realize your mistake in hindsight. Lucky for us, Salina, KS is one of the few stops along I-70 that includes a Starbucks (bonus!).
By mid-afternoon the cumulus field that had developed in advance of the dryline was boiling over our heads. We watched the clouds form that cauliflower-like shape, almost as if a nuclear bomb had been detonated. One of those updrafts would become the focal point for the storm that created the monster of 2013. We had no idea as of yet what was to become. We literally sat and watched the storm appear from blue sky, turn into a storm and begin to organize. We drove another 10 miles to the north and then parked, where we parked would become our final viewing place for the rest of the day. Within an hour, a tornado formed nearly right in front us. It morphed into a giant wedge, perfectly backlit with strong contrast just the west of us. The best part, it didn’t move! This storm was anchored into position and dug its heels in deep, literally spinning over open farmland and giving us the show of the year for more than 40-minutes. All that patience had paid off!